Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Negotiation Checklist

Find a printable version here.

I wrote this negotiation checklist for my workshop at BiTastic! This list will never manage to cover every aspect of negotiation, but I’ve tried to make it as complete as possible (with the exception of checklists for very specific types of play like suspension bondage or sharps play). You’ll probably want to pick and choose the parts of this list that are relevant to you and your play partner. Distribute as you wish.

My thanks to the FetLifers who suggested edits to this. You can find the original post here.

Deciding whether to play
  • What are each of you looking for from this scene? Do you/your wants seem compatible?
  • How well do you know the person?
  • Can get references from former play partners.
  • Background checking: Remember that nobody is obliged to give you personal information, and I would not advocate this invasion of privacy if I was not considering putting myself in a hazardous position with an individual. Also, it is a significant consent violation to share this information with other scene members or to “out” someone. However, you can consider corroborating that someone is who they say they are by looking at
    • Someone’s FetLife profile; writings, posts they make in groups
    • Google search - names, email addresses
    • Facebook and LinkedIn profiles (can often be found using email addresses)
    • Pipl.com collects details that are public on social networks, news articles and public records. Similar paid-for tools can search criminal databases.
    • Remember that it’s fine to say no at any time for any reason. It’s also fine for a potential play partner to ask you why you’re saying no, and it’s fine for you to withhold that information.
Negotiation methods
  • Negotiation is typically done outwith “scene headspace”, with partners not acting within a D/s or top/bottom dynamic.
  • Negotiating in advance of meeting to play is useful.
  • Checklists giving different activities can provide a starting point for discussing interests.
  • Some people prefer to have negotiations written down so that they are unambiguous - even a text message confirming safewords
  • It’s advisable to consider limits as fixed during pre-scene negotiation - in the middle of a scene, people may be incoherent or disinhibited, so they may agree to things that they wouldn’t have during pre-scene negotiations.

  • Not quite negotiation but certainly pre-scene preparation you should consider and agree to if playing with someone new/unknown.
  • Set up a safe call. Tell a trusted person where you are going and who you will be there with. Arrange for them to call you at certain times (whilst you are there/when you should be home). State to play partner that these calls are scheduled.
  • If play partner consents, useful to take a photo of play partner’s driving license and send it to a trusted person.

  • Private or public?
  • How are you going to get there and back? “Drop” after play can leave players disoriented and vulnerable so driving/going home soon thereafter may be inadvisable
  • Private 
    • At home? Hotel? Privately hired dungeon space?
    • May wish to set up a safe call
  • Public
    • Make sure you know the rules of the play space and what play is acceptable
    • Also good to have an idea of equipment and space available, and ambience of space. Loud/quiet? Busy?

Physical conditions
  • Ask in general: any health concerns or medications?
  • Are you well-fed and hydrated?
  • May want to ask specific prompts as people may not have considered everything
    • Heart conditions
    • Diabetes
    • Low blood pressure, history of fainting or dizziness
    • Circulation problems
    • Epilepsy
    • Mobility limitations and physical injuries
    • Piercings - some may be tender months after piercing, may catch on floggers etc
    • Existing bruises or skin injuries
    • Chronic pain
  • Medications?
    • Aspirin, blood pressure medications?
    • Painkillers?
    • Inhalers - do you need them close by during play?
Mental health
  • Triggers - even if you don’t think they’ll come up. How do you react if triggered?
  • Headspace during play - how do you react in general? Do you fight back? Do you often cry/say no? Become nonverbal? 
  • Language: any no-go areas? (Gendered insults, comments on appearance…)
Health and safety
  • STI risks
    • Intravenous drug use
    • Sexual practices - nonmonogamy? Unbarriered sex? Blood play?
    • Depending on type of play (and not just play involving sex), may want to get STI tested
  • Past this, list is most certainly incomplete - questions to ask will largely depend on type of play
    • Care of toys - happy with partner’s practices?
    • Rope safety
    • Sharps safety
    • Impact play safety
  • Regardless of the type of play - do you have the appropriate kit for if something goes wrong? This doesn’t just include kit to deal with in-scene mishaps (eg a first-aid kit) but items to deal with emergencies like having to evacuate the building.
  • Common to use “traffic light system” - red, yellow, green - but describe what those mean to you. Does yellow mean “stop and talk to me” or “don’t hit any harder”? Does red mean “stop everything now and get me out of where I am now” or “stop what you just did”?
  • Does “no” actually mean no, or does only a safeword mean no? 
  • Do you prefer to talk to your partner directly during a scene, and have safewords only as a backup? 
  • Do you go nonverbal during play? If so, does your partner need to check in with you?
  • Using gags: agree on hand signals/hold a ball which can be dropped instead of a safeword
  • In public: what are house safewords? Usually yelling RED or SAFEWORD will work regardless.
  • Also in public: do you need a nonverbal safeword if it’s noisy?
The play itself
  • Who’s topping? Who’s bottoming? Is there any chance of switching?
  • Do you want a spotter? 
  • How long are you playing for?
  • Any sexual contact? (Venue permitting)
  • Are you happy to play if any alcohol/drugs have been consumed? (Venue permitting)
  • What type of play? Limits for each (bottom and top)
  • Bondage/sensory deprivation?
  • Pain? If so, what types? Thuddy/stingy/scratchy? How much pain? Do you need a warm-up?
  • Humiliation?
  • Roleplay?
  • Specific fetishes?
  • Sensation play? Are you ticklish? Sensitive to touch, smell, noise?
  • Is it okay to leave marks? If so, where?

Drop and Aftercare
  • Both tops and bottoms can drop after play - plan accordingly
  • Often need warm comfortable clothing, hot drink, sugary snack to bring blood sugar back up
  • Is physical contact important to you, too? Is your play partner willing to provide it, and if not, can someone else?
  • Will you need care for longer than a few hours? If so - arrange before play.
  • If you’re used to private play, remember that playing in public can be very different - many people find that drop seems more intense/problematic in public.
  • Follow up the next day - check on each other’s mental state, get feedback on scene. Drop can also affect players several days after a scene - good manners to keep checking in (and perhaps see how bottoms are healing)

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